10 Global New Year’s Eve Traditions
How countries around the world celebrate the new year.
You've taken the time to reflect, made your pre-resolutions, and are ready to welcome the new year. For many, the celebration revolves around champagne toasts, fireworks, and a midnight kiss. In some corners of the world though, the celebration is more exotic, involving everything from wearing colorful underwear to eating twelve grapes as the clock strikes midnight. Here, 10 different New Year's Eve traditions from around the world.
If you're wondering who will be getting married in the new year, Belarus is the place to go. One of their traditions involves placing corn in front of single women and releasing a rooster. The woman who the bird chooses to eat from first will be the one to say “I do” in the new year.
Brazilians wear white to welcome the new year since the color is seen as a symbol of peace and renewal. But make no mistake, there’s a lot of color underneath those white clothes. Brazilians believe that wearing colorful underwear will bring them luck. According to tradition, different colors attract different kinds of luck; green will bring good health, yellow will bring money, and red will attract passion and romance.
For Colombians, New Year’s Eve is the biggest night of the year and calls for an interesting type of exercise: it's tradition to run a block with an empty suitcase. Doing so is supposed to make the new year a travel-filled one.
Czechs are strict about two traditions during New Year’s Eve: eating lentils and avoiding chicken at all costs. Lentils are believed to bring prosperity while eating chicken supposedly lets luck fly away.
Danish people literally jump into the new year: They stand on chairs and jump off them exactly when the clock strikes midnight. This leaping tradition is thought to banish bad spirits and bring good luck for the new year. Danes also shatter unused dishes and plates against the doors of friends and family to usher in good luck.
Greeks bake to welcome the new year. In particular, they make a cake called Vasilopita (king’s pie in Greek), which contains a hidden golden coin. When the cake is sliced, whoever gets the golden coin is supposed to have a prosperous year ahead.
In Panama (as in many other Latin American countries), a New Year’s celebration isn’t complete without the burning of effigies. These effigies (called munecos) are usually of celebrities and political figures, and are burned in bonfires. The munecos are filled with little pieces of paper noting the negative things that people want to let go of from the past year.
In the Philippines, round shapes symbolize prosperity for the coming year. Thus, Filipinos display round fruits on their New Year’s Eve dining tables, and wear clothing patterned with round polka-dots.
In Spain, it is customary to eat twelve grapes as soon as the clock strikes midnight. Each grape represents a wish for each of the twelve months in the upcoming year. Families consume their grapes together and wish for the new year to be a prosperous one.
In Thailand, the new year is celebrated from April 13-15. During this time, it's a Thai custom to throw water on others as a way to pay respect, and smear talc on strangers as a blessing.